Returning home after seven years in a camp for displaced people, Mahmoud Abou al-Habel’s joy was eclipsed by pain when he surveyed his vandalised property in the Libyan town of Tawergha.
This damage testifies to the hostility that forced him and 26 family members to relocate Tripoli’s outskirts, 240 kilometres away.
Habel and 40,000 fellow residents of Tawergha and its surroundings were banished because they were seen as supporting former dictator Moamer Kadhafi right up to his bloody 2011 demise.
The families have started to come back. There are still points in the reconciliation agreement between Misrata and Tawergha that the government has delayed, and it is now too late. Even though the government has provided many services, some are still being pushed back.
After being chased away by militia from the nearby city of Misrata, the displaced townsfolk were forbidden from returning home, until a reconciliation deal brokered in June by the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).
The mayor adds that five offices are identifying potential beneficiaries and assessing the damage, and residents can already start repairing their homes.
According to Youssef Jalalah, the Minister for Displaced Persons and Refugees of the GNA, the city needs “significant funding to be rebuilt, but also the support of the international community, which has promised to contribute to it”.